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Malnutrition and climate change threaten #Zerohunger in Mozambique

World Food Day ceremony in Maputo

16 October 2018, Maputo - Mozambique has high levels of chronic malnutrition, with 43 percent of children affected, Food and Agriculture Organization Representative to the country, Olman Serrano, said during the World Food Day celebration.

In addition, Serrano added that these numbers trigger losses of about 1.6 billion USD annually, corresponding to 10.9% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The country, in collaboration with its partners, needs to define the actions necessary to "move towards zero hunger because the population in Mozambique also continues to grow," added the FAO Representative while speaking during the event organized in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.

Speakers at the World Food Day ceremony round table in Maputo also pointed climate change and fall armyworm as the main challenges for food security in Mozambique.

This year's theme - "Our actions are our future: a Zero Hunger world by 2030 is possible" - underscores the urgent need to step up collective efforts to reach the Zero Hunger goal.

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Higino de Marrule, reminded that Mozambique has managed to reduce the food security index from 50% to 24% in the last 10 years, but there are still challenges related to access to nutritious food and resilience to climatic shocks that have a major impact on agricultural production.

He said, "That is why the policies of our government are oriented to rural areas as a way to leverage the role of rural women in areas that are mostly subsistence farming. It is the government's goal to support farmers to move from subsistence agriculture to agro-business agriculture."

Global studies show that the world population continues to grow and that means that the demand for food will also increase. The Minister argues that Mozambique already has a good level of productivity, and the great challenge is to teach the population to eat properly, taking better advantage of what they already produce.

"We can reach 2030 with zero hunger but we have to pay attention to how people are nourished," said the Minister.

According to official data, the provinces most affected by hunger in the country are Sofala, in central Mozambique, and Gaza in the south. Chronic malnutrition in Mozambique affects 43% of children and is among the main factors of infant mortality, according to the Multisectoral Plan of Action for the Reduction of Chronic Malnutrition.

Rural Woman plays a key role to ensure food and nutrition security

In Mozambique, more than 70% of the economically active population are in agrarian activity, with 80% of which are women. For the Minister of Agriculture, this data clearly shows that women play a key role in ensuring food and nutrition security and in generating family income.

"Our government's policies are geared towards the rural area as a way to leverage the role of rural women and producers," he concluded.

Agriculture development in the hands of the youth

In a country like Mozambique, where more than 50% of the population are young, World Food Programme Representative, Karin Manente, said that the youth plays a role in developing the sector. "Linking agriculture to technologies can be the "trick" to call young's attention to join agriculture," Manente added.

Towards a Zero Hunger future

FAO together with the World Health Organization is working on the Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025, and supporting countries to address the multiple burdens of malnutrition. This includes adopting legislation to improve the labelling of products, and ban harmful ingredients; introducing nutrition in the school curriculum; combatting food loss and waste; and promoting local fresh food from family farming.